Monday, 28 March 2011

. International Buddhist Missionaries (Early Period)

One very significant outcome of the third Buddhist council was dispatching the massage of the Buddha outside boundary of India. Emperor Asoka was credited for this historic even which expanded the horizon of Buddhist culture. His contributions to propagate Buddhism can be seen in two levels.

1.   Spread of dhamma in local arenas
2.   Spread of Buddhist in land outside India.

After being a Buddhist, closely associated with responsible monks, Emperor Asoka was well acknowledged in the teaching of Buddha. Based on that, he built a political philosophy to be practice through out his empire. This political philosophy is known as the “Asoka Doctrine” (Asokadhamma).

      In his local missionary activities emperor Asoka spread Buddhism mainly in three ways.

1.   Encouraging and supporting local Buddhist missionaries
2.   Establishing edicts baring dhamma
i.       ßilalekhana (rock edicts)
ii.         Girilekhana (edicts in caves)
iii.        Thambhalekhana (edicts on posts)
3.   Appointing royal officers (dhammamahAmaccA)

Since Asoka became Dhammasoka after giving up his principles of conquering direction (∂igvijaya) and converting himself to thee principle of conquering by doctrine (∂hammavijaya) he worked to acknowledge his subject on Buddhist teachings to facilitate that process about three measures were practiced.

      In his dispatching Buddhist missionaries in other countries following countries and lands were covered.

µajjhantikattheraM KasmIragandhAraTThaM…, µahAdevattheraM µahisamaNDalaM…, RakkhitattheraM VanavAsiM, YonakadhammarakkhitattheraM åparantakaM, µahAdhammarakkhitattheraM µahAraTThaM, µahArakkhitattheraM YonakalokaM, µajjhimattheraM HimarantappadesabhAaM, YonakattheraJca UttarattheraJca ßuvaNNabhUmiM.., µahindattheraM, ItthiyattheraM, UtthiyattheraM, ßambalattherena, BhaddasAlattherena, ßumanasAmanera BhaNDukopAsakena ca saddhiM †ambapaNNi dIpaM pesesi.

1. Kasmira Gandhara this area covers two colonies in north-western India. They are generally identified with modern Peshawar and Ravalpindi districts. After this second council this area developed as contras of ßArvativAda sect. The missionary group sent to here was elder Hajjhantika.

2. Mahisa Mandala this present modern Mysore district and the missionary group headed by elder µahAdeva.

3. Vanavasadesa is identified with modern India and the missionary group was headed by elder Rakkhita

4. åparanta this is the west India specially it covers Ellora, BhArukacca and ßuppAraka. The missionary group sent here was headed by elder Yonakadhammarakkhita.

5. Maharattha this is modern µahArastra in central India and elder µahAdhammarakkhita was the leader of missionary

6. Yonakadesa it covers north-west boundary of India. And µahArakkhita thera headed the missionary in that land.

7. Suvannabhumi this is considered to be modern Myanmar. Buddhism was brought to this country by this missionary headed by elder Sona and elder Uttara.

8. Himavantappadesa this is considered to be north India over the HimAlayas tracts. Majjhimathera headed th e missionary and Kassapagotta, Ven. Culladeva, Sahadeva and Dunnunvissara accomplished the missionary.

9. Jambapanni this is Sri Lanka and Ven. µahAmahinda headed the missionary that was accomplished with Ven. Itthiuya, Utthiya, Sambala, BhaddasAla, novice Sumana and lay devotee BhaNDuka.

      In these nine destinations, two namely ßuvaNNabhUmi and †ambapaNNi are foreign lands. Sri Lanka out of them has been able to protect Buddhism in pure form throughout history. On the other hand Sri Lanka has a historical record of Buddhist history, throughout the ages. During the Buddhist history in Sri Lanka, it was the major religion in the Island always. In other lands to where the Buddhism was sent at the end third Buddhist council have no mentioned an unbroken Buddhist tradition or Buddhist record. Therefore among nine missionaries, the one that came to Sri Lanka is considered to be the most success.

      The sources other then pAli works such edicts, record the Chinese travelers, mentioned that Buddhism was also sent to countries like Syria, Egypt, Cola PAndya, etc. we do not  have detail records or continues historical document on the Buddhist in those lands. Therefore, it is not easy to recognize how and why did not continue to develop in those lands. Archaeological remorse in many and various historical sight, both in west and east stand as evident to say that with the Asokan region Buddhist became an international religion.

      Some the modern scholars do not accept the record in pAli chronicles and commentaries to be true. They interpreted those as mythological information. Ironically, their ideas were proved to be false with the archaeological discoveries. At ßaJchi stupa some caskets found by Dr. Kuningham. Out those there are sentences, which are not very clear. But show that the names of Buddhist missionaries very specifically. Their languages were Asokan Prakrit. One casket there bears as “KaZapagotaZa hemavatacariyaZa which try to say about Kassapagotta thera who went to Himavanta area. Another casket bears as “ŚapuriZamajjhimaZa” recording about Majjhantika thera who went to KasmIra and Gandharva. A Sri Lanka rock edict belonging to first century A.D has the following in ancient Sri Lanka Prakrit “µahida teraha ca bhadasala teraha ca” recording about Buddhist missionaries from India in Sri Lanka. Picture carving in ßAJchi has a picture bearing Buddhist mission to Sri Lanka. By these archeological evidences what is said in pAli records are proved to be true.

Composing New Texts to Disprove Wrong Views

The earliest example of composing new text to disprove wrong views is the composing of KathAvatthuppakAraNa by elder Moggaliputatissa in 217 B.C (the treatise on points of controversy). It was done in completion of AbhidhammapiTaka and it was one of the major tasks that was completed in the third Buddhist council under the patronage of emperor Dhammasoka and with the participation of one thousand monks. The tradition believed that the other treatise of canonical Abhidhamma was produced by Arahant SAriputta and following his method of analysis the KathAvatthuppakAraNa was composed. The theravAda tradition therefore maintains that KathAvatthuppakAraNa to have the contribution of two elders, namely, elder ßAriputta giving method and elder Moggaliputtatissa improved on it.

      In present Kathavatthu (KV) incorporates the introduction to the text says it was composed for disproving 500 points (paJcasata paravAde vinetum) and to establish 500 right views (paJcasatasakavAde Thapetum). Accordingly there must be one thousand points discussed, but it is different from the exact number. The scholar who was studied about KathAvatthuppakAraNa say that sometimes the original book has not come down to us, what we have is only a part of that. This could be true for the presently available work discusses only points to be rejected. None in it is dealing with topics to be approved.
      The background of composing this significant work highlights the developing of Buddhism in few angles. Around this time period is important to study the development of Buddhist schools their philosophies modes of discipline and even some significant personalities. Up to the second Buddhist council the disciples of the Buddha function as a single organization. After the Buddha with the first schism dividing the community into two main groups that is †heravAda and µahAsaGghIka, led to the emergence of a number of school. It is said they were 18 in number at the time of third Buddhist council. A rough picture of the evolution those schools follow. 

The beginning point of the emergence of Buddhist schools in this manner was the rejection of ten improper disciplinary practice maintained by Vajjiputtaka monks. Historical sources like µahAvaMsa and IpavaMsa informs us that Theravada monks rejected those ten points subsequently other monks guided by Vajjiputtakas established the tradition called µahAsanGhIka.

      Nevertheless we have a different records in Chinese sources and that maintain even the µahAsanGhIkas rejected the ten points practiced by Vajjiputakas. When we compare and contrast these sources, it is not justifiable that so called ten points caused the schism.

Therefore modern scholars like E.J. Thomas, (History of Buddhist Thought) argue that that the first schism in Buddhist order could have arisen sometimes before second council was held.

      This information is further strengthened by facts that were developing, in this time against the supremacy and nobility of the perfect one (arahanta). As there were some senior monks who did not readily accept what was rehearsed at the first council- that is elder PuraNA, there is information in the record of ßammitIya school that elder Bhadra maintained with following given views as the weakness of aranhant.

1.   Accomplished one would have desire.
2.   Accomplished one would have ignorance
3.   Accomplished one would have doubt
4.   Accomplished one is to be mode free from samsAra by another
5.   By the utterance of certain word one can attain liberation.
These records further say that at one time there was a gathering of monks at the city of PAtalIputta where those monks agreed that all arahants have these weaknesses. Those monks who agreed the view of elder Bhadra was called since then µahAsaGghIka.                                                                                   
      All these five facts stand for devaluating       the supremacy and nobility of arahant. They give an insight that the arahant is none other than normal monks with regard to his spiritual attainments. In later µahAyAna texts, like ßaddharmapuNDarIkasutra (the discourse of the lotus of true doctrine). These ideas were further developed in philosophical sense. The sole aim of such work was to bring down the supreme place assigned for the arahants. Clues of such ideas have been treated in KathAvatthuppakAraNa under parihAnikathA giving the idea that they are points that occurs in time of decline.
      Those who developed the arahant ideal highlighted the idea of Boddhisattva (the aspirant Buddha) on the other hand. For doing that they developed theories, literatures and concepts. As the result the human quality of the Buddha’s biography were transformed into supernormal states. The beginning record of such transformation is found in µahAsaGgIka texts. 

      Opposite to µahAsaIka the sthAviravAda was working and functioning. This means difference which led to the birth of more and more schools, are as follows.

1.   Different views on the Buddha and Buddha, nature
2.   Different views on the nature and philosophical word
3.   Different views on the soul and re-incarnation
4.   Different views on the  person and personality
5.   Different views on the ethic an epistemology.

With the presentation of new theories on the above ideas, eighteen schools emerged under main two major traditions. The two traditions are ßthAviravAda and µahAsaGgIkA . Professor M.B. Barua maintains that the emergence of Buddhist schools was not a decline, but it is a significant development about Buddhist thought. Buddhism was rejuvenated and saved from its natural death due to the emergence of Buddhist schools.  Only with this Buddhism had new developments, news thoughts, and new appearances so that it to be applicable to a big portion of humanity in different lands. 

Protecting Original Teachings Free from Pollutions.

It is well- known that sometime after the demise of Buddha schism arose in the order of monks for many reasons such as philosophical matters disciplinary matters and teacher tradition disagreement. When we examine the nature of the order when the Buddha was alive it is clear the germs of later disagreements were seen in the early days themselves. Each and everybody who entered the order were not genuinely bound for the purpose of which they renounced the home life. Once, elder Dabbamattaputta was assigned to arrange beds for monks at the monastery. He prepared beds separately for Suttantika, Vinayadharas, Dhammakatikas and meditators. He also arranged beds separately for other monks who had big bodies who engaged in muscle development and engaged in inferior conversation.

Ye te bhikkhU tiracchAna kathikA kAyadaDDhibahulA tesampi ekajjhaM senAsanaM paJJapeti
From monks of this nature nor a practice or good behaviors could be expelled. They were not interested in practicing Dhamma and Vinaya but this aspiration were mean and their practices were led to those mean ideas.

            Elder Devadatta accompanied with his disciples  Kokalika and Samuddadatta attempted to create a schism demanding for five boons (paJcavara). They are as follows:

1.   RukkhamUlika –living at tree food
2.  PansakUlika – wearing cemetery cloth
3.  PiNDapAtika living on begged food
4.   Na mamsabhakkhaka – vegetarian
5.   ĀraJJika – forest dweller

The Buddha’s respond to them was that he would not insist any monks to do so. But he permitted to perform so those who preferred those practices. Then elder Devaddata made a breach in congregation of monks with the consent of lay-supporters who admire austerity among bhikkhus accompanying a group of monks and nuns of Buddhist disciples.

There were some male disciples who were out of the Buddha’s control according to the Koasambiyasutta of MN. According to its commentary their problem was over a trivial disciplinary matters leaving some water in the bucket in the washing room caused that problem. The master constant advices were unable to settle down the congregation. The Buddha at last left GositarAma at Kosambi and entered the forest Parileyya where he found peace in solitude. The rivalry at Kosambi remained until the lay-supporters decision not to support order till the Buddha returns.

These two classic examples shows that even within the order there were monks who conducted out of the disciplinary code and caused serious damage to the unity of Buddha’s disciples.

A monk named Arittha generated a wring view (micchadiTThi) on dangerous factors (antarayikadhamma) as revealed by the ålaggadhUpamasutta of MN.

†athAhaM bhagavatA dhammaM desitaM AjAnAmi yathA ye me antarAyikA dhammA antarAyikA vuttA bhagavatA , te patisevanAya nAlaM antarAyAti .”

=I know the teaching of the Buddha declared so as by the Buddha that these dangerous factors are dangerous by association of them no danger will occur.

The Buddha responds to the wrong view illustrating the simile of snake. MahAtaNhAsankhAyasutta of MN records another similar incident where a bhikkhu named Sati misinterpreted the Buddhist concept of consciousness (ViJJAna) in the following words.

†adevidaM viJJAnaM sandhAvati samsArati anaJJaM” (that consciousness which go and move is this itself, not another). This is against Buddhist fundamental and this interpretation is an atonalistic view. Therefore Sati’s view was a serious misinterpretation of Buddhist principle. Yamakasutta of SN records how a monk named Yamaka wrongly interpreted the Buddhist view on the destiny.

†athAhaM bhagavatA dhammaM desitaM AjAnAmi, yathA khINasavA bhikkhu kAyassa ucchijjanti na honti parammaraNA.” (I know as preached by the Buddha as Arahanth monks cut off after the breaking up of body they do not exist after death.)

Ven. Yamaka was interpreting the Buddhist idea of liberation in nihilistic terminology

      In these instances we observed misinterpretation of the dhamma, very significant Buddhist philosophical concept were being wrongly rendered by these monks. Apart from these monks that were mentioned about there were other groups such as Chabbaggiya monks Ven. UdAyi Ven. Sudinna who misbehaved paving the way for the introduction of a number of new disciplinary rules. The examples sited about depict how the monks in the Buddha’s time itself created issue related to the doctrine and discipline.
      Even though such incident took place they were not very effective to make a radical change in the order or doctrine in face of the outstanding personality of the Buddha. The Subbada’s words just after the demise of the Buddha amply represent how they felt free when the Buddha passed away. In the time when the master was alive that avoided expressing their naked thought out of the respect to the Buddha.

      The Buddhist councils took place mainly due to such disturbance that occurred originating from monks who liked to change the doctrine and discipline. All the three councils function for this purpose.
      Herman Oldenberg held the idea that first Buddhist council was not a historical incidence, but it is a fanciful story created by monks. For his decision he derived evidence from the fact that MahAparinibbAnasutta does not bear any indication about first Buddhist council. His view has been reviewd and rejected by number of western and eastern who deeply examined pAli historical documents. Some of those are E.J. Thomas Majunder and Rhy davids. They established the historicity of this council with sound example. It is true that due to this council a number of historical issues that could have arisen in the history of sAsana were prevented.

      A century later the second Buddhist council SattasatikavinayasangIti was held. It was another occasion where vinaya problem occurred when there was sufficient room. The main reason for this was the ten points against vinaya which were practiced by vajjiputtaka monks.

†ena kho pana samayena vassasataparinibbuta bhagavati vesAlikA vajjiputtakA bhikkhU dasavatthUni dIpenti.

Dasa akappika vatthu
1.  Kappati singilona kappo ( keeping salt in a horn and using it is proper)
2.  Kappati gvangula kappo ( taking food when the sun has passed two inches being proper to have)
3.  Kappat gAmantara kappo ( when decided to go to another village it is proper to use extra food even though not properly given)
4.  Kappati AvAsa kappo ( it is proper to perform sanghakamma at different places of the premises of single monastery)
5.  Kappati anumati kappo (it is proper to perform vinaya kamma separately without taking the consent of co-resident or with the idea of taking it later.)
6.  Kappati Acinna kappo ( it is proper to practice whatever practiced by teacher even by the student)
7.  Kappati amathita kappo ( it is proper to take milk in the state when it is neither ghee nor curd)
8.  Kappati jalogi patum kappo ( it is proper to drink unfermented toddy)
9.  Kappati adasaka nisIdana ( it is proper to use half served sitting cloth)
10. Kappati jAtarUparajataM ( it is proper to use forms of money)

The purpose of second council was in main to justify whether practices were for or against vinaya. The participations in the council decided to reject them completely. Because they believed that giving permission to them would be conducive to empower adhamma and avinaya. Therefore second Buddhist council was concluded rejecting the ten points of practices of Vajjiputtaka monks deciding that they are completely against original vinaya. CullavaggapAli records how Ven. Yasa highlighted the Significance of rejecting them.

Handa mayaM bhante imaM AdhikaraNaM AdiyissAna pure adhammo dippati dhammo patibAhIyati, avinayo dippati vinayo patibAhIyati. Pure adhammavAdino balavantA honti dhammavAdino dubbalA honti avinayavAdino balavantA hoti vinayavAådino  dubbalo hoti’’

=Now o, Venerable! Sir shall we consider this matter of discussion. In future the wrong doctrine will shine good doctrine will decline wrong vinayo will shine and good vinayo will decline. In the future the holder of the wrong doctrine will be powerful and holders of good dhamma will be weak. The holder of wrong vinaya will be powerful and the holder of good vinaya will be weak.”             
In the second Buddhist council monks were successful in taking measure to protect dhamma and vinaya as was done in the first council.
At third Buddhist council named ßAhassikadhammasaGghIti was held to purify the order of monks as it had been destructively polluted by the extremes of the holders of wrong views (aJJatiTThiyA) in the order.
At this period discipline monks had abandoned performing vinayakamma as order was consisting with a big considerable number of wrong view-holders. To purify the order form this situation the third Buddhist council was held. At åsokarAmavihAra at PAtaliputta the council was chaired by Ven. Moggaliputtatissa thera and it was sponsored by Emperor Asoka. One thousand monks participated in the council. And therefore it is called sahassikasanghiti. Those who answered when questioned that the Buddha is a Vibbajjavadin were considered as true disciple of Buddhism. Sixty thousand who answered otherwise were disrobing. It is said king gave white cloths and occupation for them. After that the council was held. In the council elder Moggaliputtatissa compiled KathAvatthuppakAraNa establishing 500 right views and rejecting 500 hundred wrong views.
 In these three councils elder monks worked with a great responsibility to protect the pure tradition of Buddhism and Buddhist order. Due to their selfless attempt the words of the Buddha were protected in original purity. Their main purpose was to maintain dhamma a without pollution. 

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